Are you getting MSN SPAM?

Have you ever received strange messages from your friends on MSN, but they are not really online?

The messages seems somewhat realistic, and often comes with a link for you to click on…. one example I received recently is as below

huhuhahahah thats YOU?!? LOL! :D:D:D http://xxxxx.My-Pictures–

#1 rule – Don’t Click on It!!! never click on any URL you are not sure of. If you received a message with your friend being offline, it’s a really good chance it’s not from your friend. Clicking on it will likely get you into trouble with malware.

In fact, most of the times it’s actually a malware site that’s spamming you. So the question is, how did the spammer get hold of your friend’s account? There are at least 2 possible ways.

  1. your friend has a poor password used for the MSN account, a password which the spammers were able to “guess”. Most of the time this is true, not many people will have good passwords.
  2. your friend has used a computer that has a malware active, so when he/she logs in to MSN, the malware captures the password and sends it to the spammer

So, how do we combat this? Just a few simple tips should make these go away

  1. immediately advise your friend who’s account has been compromised to change the password to his/her MSN account
  2. if you know that your password is simple, change it as well (no it’s not that it’s now compromised, it’s to avoid it being compromised in a similar fashion)
  3. it’s good practice now to have passwords that mixes numbers and letters. To make it even better, throw in a punctuation. Of course the ultimate password will also contain the 3 components plus the letters are a mix of upper and lower cases, and the entire password is at least 8 characters long. So something like “BitE2mE89$” is great! and “coffeeforme” is really bad.
  4. make sure your computer has an up to date antivirus/malware installed. If you don’t want to pay for one, you can get a free version from AVG. Free, only if you are using it for personal use. For a business PC, you need to buy one.
  5. make sure your computer is patched (updated) regularly, if windows prompt you to update, run it. It often fix problems which antivirus/malware products cannot protect you from.
  6. Patching and having an antivirus/malware product complements each other, together they cover you better.

If you use facebook or twitter, earlier in August 2009, both these websites were hit badly. As a user to these sites, you’ll probably get strange looking webpages, or perhaps slow, or nothing worked. That is the consequence of hundreds of thousands of PCs not properly maintained and have malwares running on them. These PCs were under control via the malware to attack these services. So, for a good couple of weeks, facebook was not really usable. If all computers were properly maintained with the few simple steps above, we wouldn’t have any problem. It’ll be good for facebook and the rest of us.

If you have friends and family who you feel may not know these few basic and hugely important tips, do share these tips with them.

If you have any queries or comments, just drop in a message below or email me 🙂

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